Plotline of A Man in Full
Prologue: Cap’m Charlie
With his friend Inman Armholster, Charlie Croker hunts quail on his Turpmtine Plantation. Charlie is keen on impressing the retinue of on-lookers, including his gorgeous young wife Serena and Armholster's sexy daughter Elizabeth.
Chapter 1: Chocolate Mecca
The characters Roger Too White, Fareek Fanon and Coach McNutter are introduced. Additionally, a glimpse into the Freaknik festival is provided, along with the racial tension that will be a central theme for the remainder of the novel.
Chapter 2: The Saddlebags
Charlie goes to PlannersBanc for a meeting with the workout team of which Harry Zale is the primary workout artiste. Zale dogs Charlie about the huge debts that he owes the bank from his building projects. Using techniques like wearing suspenders with skulls and crossbones and giving the unidigital salute, he gives Charlie “saddlebags,” referring to the mammoth amounts of sweat from Charlie’s armpits that meet in the middle of his chest.
Chapter 3: Turpmtine
Wismer “The Wiz” Stroock is introduced; he and Charlie fly to his plantation after the humiliating workout session at PlannersBanc. An intimate view is given of several aspects of the story—Charlie’s thoughts, background information about the Wiz, the details of the workout session, the extent of his debt, and a portrayal of Charlie as a tough, stubborn character. With his bare hands Charlie captures and single-handedly cages a huge rattlesnake, greatly impressing a large group of his employees at Turpmtine.
Chapter 4: Beige Half-Brother
Wesley Dobbs Jordan meets with Roger White II to discuss the alleged rape of Elizabeth Armholster. Jordan explains that he is running against Andre Fleet in the upcoming election, and that the Fanon case could “rip the city apart.”
Chapter 5: The Suicidal Freezer Unit
Conrad Hensley is introduced. His life, including his job in the freezer unit for Croker Global Foods, begins to unfold. Conrad becomes a hero by saving his co-worker Kenny from a terrible accident. Conrad is then laid off as a result of Charlie’s cost-saving tactic.
Chapter 6: In the Lair of the Lust
Charlie’s financial difficulties turn his focus toward his own monetary waste exhibited throughout his lavishly decorated Buckhead palace. Unable to sleep and desperately seeking manly adventure, Charlie dresses for horseback riding intent on cooking himself a big breakfast. Charlie unwittingly sets off the home security system, which awakens the entire household to his considerable embarrassment.
Chapter 7: Hello Out There, 7-Eleven Land
Ray Peepgass laments his lonely existence in Apartment XXXA at Normandy Lea Apartments, the result of his illicit affair and impregnation of Sirja and the dignified offense taken by his wife Betty. Meanwhile, in his family’s duet apartment, Conrad overhears a fight between his younger, hooker-attired Asian neighbor and her mother. Conrad proceeds to recall his relationship with his own parents and their rejection of the ‘bourgeois life.’ He regrets the events which led him to his current situation, envisioning what he could have become both athletically and educationally.
Chapter 8: The Lay of the Land
Wes Jordan takes Roger Too White on a tour to show the contrast between the white and the black parts of Atlanta. After showing the difference between the environments in which Elizabeth Armholster and Fareek Fanon grew up in, Wes asks for Roger’s help in persuading Charlie to speak publicly in favor of Fareek.
Chapter 9: The Superfluous Woman
This is the only chapter written from the viewpoint of Martha Croker. She makes it poignantly clear that she feels superfluous. Martha and Charlie, who has been cajoled by Serena, each decide to buy a table at the Lapeth exhibit.
Chapter 10: The Red Dog
Ray Peepgass, Harry Zale, and others at PlannersBanc discuss what to do about Croker’s mountainous debt. While they talk, Peepgass devises an illegal scheme. If the bank can force Croker to hand over Croker Concourse by means of a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure, Peepgass could form a syndicate, buy the building cheap, and then stand to make millions. Ray lets his red dog loose by deciding boldly to pursue a risky plan for the first time in his life. Dr. Emmo Nuchols examines Charlie’s knee and recommends knee replacement surgery.
Chapter 11: This is Not Right
Conrad faces one unlucky setback after the next in his honest attempt to secure a job. Conrad discovers that because of his manual labor experience, his hands have become too large for any sort of white collar work. External forces seem to conspire against him in almost every way imaginable.
Chapter 12: The Breeding Barn
Charlie takes his Turpmtine guests, including the aptly named Richmans, to see First Draw, Charlie’s prize-winning horse, stud a mare. After the excitement, Charlie is mortified when he accidentally calls Herb Richman “Hebe” Richman. This gaffe nixes any chance of getting the Richman’s DefinitionAmerica corporation headquarters to relocate to Croker Concourse.
Chapter 13: The Arrest
PlannersBanc, headed by Peepgass and Zale, seizes Charlie’s Gulfstream 5 jet amidst of all his guests. Peepgass’ red dog is unleashed in all of its fury. Charlie destroys the engine of his own plane to spite his adversaries, but fails to rescue his N.C. Wyeth painting from the plane.
Chapter 14: God’s Cosmic Joke
The sorted details of the “tawdry” love affair between Raymond Peepgass and Sirja Tirmaki are revealed during the paternity hearing over Master P. P. Peepgass. Meanwhile, Charlie’s financial straits worsen as caterer Colonel Popover arrives to collect payment for his services. The Colonel’s sweaty, corpulent tenacity nearly ruins a visit by representatives of a potential Croker Concourse tenant, VectorCom.
Chapter 15: The Rubber Room
Jill visits Conrad in the Santa Rita Rehabilitation Center. She is horrified by the depraved behavior of women near her. Jill scolds Conrad for refusing a plea bargain and going to prison just in order to save his soul. Conrad is terrified when the Nordic Bund shot-caller Rotto greets him. Conrad receives a book that does not seem to be the novel he asked Jill to send him. When a guard brutally rips the hardback cover off of the book Conrad’s cellmate Mutt recalls how at another prison, when he was seventeen, he made a cardboard shank to blind an inmate who had raped him. In recounting his traumatic story, Mutt’s mind snaps, he goes berserk, the guards electrocute him, and he is removed to the Rubber Room for psychotic inmates.
Chapter 16: Gotcha Back
Charlie and Serena go to Wilson Lapeth’s exhibition. Charlie offers Inman Armholster his help in Elizabeth’s rape scandal. Also, Roger Too White visits the Church of the Sheltering Arms to spy on André Fleet.
Chapter 17: Epictetus Comes to Da House
A detailed and horrifying description of Conrad’s prison life is presented. Conrad begins reading The Stoics: The Complete Writings of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Musonius Rufus, and Zeno.
Chapter 18: The Aha! Phenomenon
Charlie and Serena Croker, Ray Peepgass, Martha Croker, and the rest of the prominent people in Atlanta are at the High Museum for the Wilson Lapeth exhibit. At the opening, Ray gets liquored up and makes friends with Herb Richman and Julius Licht. At the end of the show, Martha and Charlie bump into each other and exchange pleasantries. Ray approaches Martha and tells her there is something that he wants to run by her. He asks for her phone number and Martha obliges.
Chapter 19: The Trial
The scene shifts back to Santa Rita prison, where Pocahontas is attacked and raped by Rotto and his gang. No one in the pod, other than Conrad, even attempts to assist Pocahontas after he is brutalized. Rotto confronts Conrad, who uses his mouth and then the strength of his hands to subdue Rotto.
Chapter 20: Mai’s Army
An earthquake tears Santa Rita apart, and Conrad escapes after saving Five-O’s life. Conrad gets help from Kenny, who hooks him up with a lady named Mai. Mai sends the fugitive Conrad to a new life in Atlanta.
Chapter 21: The Real Buckhead
The rumor about Elizabeth and Fareek is released on the Internet. Wes Jordan reveals his plan for Charlie to Roger Too White. Ray travels to Martha’s house in his embarrassing Ford Escort, leaving it out of sight and finishing the trip on foot. He delightedly devours delicious freshly baked bread amidst the luxuries of Martha’s house while discussing his financial scheme with her.
Chapter 22: Chambodia
Conrad, having arrived in Chambodia, receives his new identity (Cornelius Alonzo DeCasi), finds a meal, and hunts for a job via the classified section of a newspaper. Additionally, the details of Raymond Peepgass’ syndicate fall into place as he lures Herb Richman, of Definition America fame, and Harvey Wyndham, a Bahamian real estate broker, into the fold. Roger Too White conducts the press conference on Fareek Fanon’s behalf, fatefully mentioning the tarantulas and English Avenue.
Chapter 23: The Deal
Roger Too White wakes up the morning after the first press conference regarding the unofficial defense of Fareek Fanon regretting his implied statements against some of the white establishment. Yet, this action is well received by members of the African American community, as well as the law firm for which he works. He visits Charlie at Croker Concourse to offer financial aid in return for his support of Fareek at a future press conference. The logic here is that Charlie’s support will bear significant weight because of his status as a member of the white establishment and similar football background. Peepgass begins to work on his own deal, forming a syndicate to buy Croker Concourse after Charlie’s financial demise. As an initial step, he takes Martha Croker out to an expensive dinner, and considers the benefits and disadvantages of continuing a relationship with her.
Chapter 24: Gridiron Heroes
Charlie meets Fareek in Buck McNutter’s house. Charlie is offended by Fareek’s rude indifference towards him. After the meeting, McNutter asks Charlie to be part of Fareek’s defense; Charlie tacitly agrees.
Chapter 25: Starring Darwell Scruggs
Charlie’s dirty deal with Darwell Scruggs is revealed via a video from Zale. Afterwards, Charlie decides to participate in the press conference in order to get PlannersBanc off of his back. Following a discussion with Kenny, Conrad learns that the FBI is looking for him.
Chapter 26: Holding Hands
Arthur Lomprey and PlannersBanc decide to suspend pressuring Charlie for a while because of a macrodecision. This enrages Peepgass as it alters his personal plans for the syndicate to buy Croker Concourse. Martha and Ray attend the Atlanta Symphony at the Woodruff Arts Center, where Roger and Henrietta White are also in attendance. During the concert, Ray holds Martha’s hand for the first time. After the performance, Roger thinks everyone is looking at him, recognizing him as the defender of Fareek Fanon.
Chapter 27: The Screen
While in surgery and under heavy medication, Charlie becomes depressed, contemplates suicide, and wants only to hide. He does not want to face the world, the bank, his debts, his family, his mistakes, or even himself. Charlie simply wants to hide behind the screen of his injured knee as long as he can. Conrad rents a room at Sister’n’Brother Munger’s Hello Again antique store.
Chapter 28: The Spark of Zeus
Conrad miraculously discovers a copy of his cherished book, The Stoics, in his room at Hello Again. Meanwhile, Roger White finds Charlie in the hospital and threatens to sic PlannersBanc on him if Charlie does not do his part at the Mayor’s press conference. Conrad, now working as a health aide and armed with his bible, The Stoics, is inspired to defend the Gardners—the retired couple for whom he is running errands—from a neighborhood thug, “the greaser.”
Chapter 29: Epictetus in Buckhead
Charlie moves home from the hospital in his lowest, most desolate state. Conrad is hired to help Charlie. Conrad introduces Charlie to Epictetus’ Stoicism.
Chapter 30: The Bull and the Lion
Ray Peepgass and Martha Croker provide insight into their developing relationship, which now includes “fantasy” sexual activity. Roger Too White visits Charlie at his Buckhead residence again to pressure him into speaking on Fareek’s behalf at the press conference. After White’s departure, Conrad details Stoicism for Charlie, who finds that this philosophy addresses the conundrums plaguing his own life.
Chapter 31: Roger Black
Roger visits Wes Jordan and they discuss the joy of politics, which lies not in money or power, but rather in the ability to make others “jump.” Since Roger’s involvement in the Fareek Fanon/Elizabeth Armholster rape scandal, he has enjoyed recognition from the African American community. Charlie and his entourage drive down to Turpmtine where Serena tries to convince Charlie that the right thing to do regarding his situation with Roger Too White is to follow through with it. Her advice is based on Elizabeth’s supposedly wild and possibly promiscuous social behavior. Conrad and Charlie discuss the matter, and Conrad offers Agrippinus as an example of a Stoic response in a similar situation.
Chapter 32: The Manager
After making an introductory speech at the televised press conference, Wes Jordan asks Charlie to offer his own opinion about Fareek. Contrary to what the Mayor and Roger expect, Charlie describes Fareek as arrogant and obnoxious, thus voiding his “deal” with Roger and Mayor Jordan concerning PlannersBanc. In his speech, Charlie demonstrates his new dedication Stoicism.
Epilogue: A Man of the World
Mayor Jordan is re-elected by a very narrow margin. Charlie gives up all his wealth and becomes a Stoic evangelist with a syndicated television show. Conrad returns to California, turns himself in to the authorities, and gets two years’ probation. Peepgass marries Martha Croker. Roger White looks to have a bright future in politics.
last updated 10 January 2012
Copyright © 2012 William O. Stephens